Originally published on SBReport.net on Sept. 11, 2012
Head coach Dennis Allen suffered his first regular season loss as AFC West rivals San Diego Chargers came into Oakland and defeated the Raiders 22-14.
The Raiders biggest problem came from their special teams unit after they lost their two-time Pro Bowl long snapper went down early in the second quarter with a head injury. This left back up middle linebacker Travis Goethel to handle the long-snapping duties.
Goethel was less than what head coach Dennis Allen hoped to see, one-hopping his first snap of the Oakland Athletics' infield dirt to punter Shane Lechler, causing him to hold the ball and be tackled for a turnover on downs.
This would prove to be a consistent pattern throughout the game.
Goethel's next snap was slowly arced to Lechler and with little blocking from offensive line, the Chargers came up the middle to block Lechler's punt, the first time one of his punts has been blocked since Oct. 8, 2006.
But Goethel's yips would appear again when he rolled a snap like a bowling ball back to Lechler, causing Lechler to attempt to pick the ball up but it was recovered by the Chargers.
Of the four long snaps by Goethel, Lechler was only able to get one punt off - a 52-yard punt that was also almost blocked by the Chargers.
Coach Allen had a difficult time with watching Goethel's woes.
"It was hard. It was hard because you didn't know what you were going to get from one play to the next," Allen said. "We're going to have a plan for that going forward and we have to make sure we don't let that happen again."
The Raiders special teams woes allowed the Chargers short fields for the Chargers offense, leading to five field goals from kicker Nate Kaeding.
The fact that the Raiders were able to hold the Chargers to just field goals on those five possessions shows that the Raiders defense played well, with the exception to just one drive.
Oakland's defense gave up its lone touchdown drive in the second quarter. The Raiders gave up three first downs due to penalties, including two offsides penalties on defensive tackle Tommy Kelly.
The Chargers were able to take advantage of the first downs given to them with a 13-play, 90-yard drive that concluded with a touchdown pass from quarterback Phillip Rivers on 3rd and goal from the six-yard line to Malcolm Floyd with Raiders defensive end Dave Tollefson around his ankles.
There's no question that the star for the game for the Raiders was running back Darren McFadden. McFadden was playing his first regular season game with quarterback Carson Palmer, and quickly became a favorite target of Palmer's.
McFadden caught the second most passes by a player in franchise history with 13 receptions. McFadden comes in second to only Tim Brown, who hauled in 14 receptions on Dec. 21, 1997.
The Raiders were taking what the defense gave them, according to Palmer.
"They were staying in base defense and we liked our match-ups with our running backs underneath and also we have beaten them in the past over the top and they were just getting a ton of depth," Palmer said. "They were not going to give up big plays. Their corners pressed the line of scrimmage a lot and just turning and running for the hills. Their safeties played extremely deep and then the linebackers underneath the safeties stayed pretty deep and gave the us some underneath throws and Darren (McFadden) did a great job when he had the ball."
McFadden finished with 86 receiving yards, but was held in check in the rushing game with 15 carries for just 32 yards.
Palmer and the Raiders offense appeared to have good rhythm in the first half but struggled after a fumble from rookie Rod Streater and a dropped pitch from Taiwan Jones on a botched reverse.
"We stopped ourselves -- especially in the first half. We had the fumble and then the drop on the reverse that we lost a lot of yardage on," Palmer said following the game. "Just kind of silly things that really slowed us down that put us in third and long situations, and 30-something yards. You can't do that."
The Raiders looked to be on their way to a touchdown at the end of the first half but McFadden was tackled just short of a first down, bringing the Raiders a fourth and one on the two-yard line with just seven seconds remaining. Down just 10-3, Allen chose to take the field goal points instead of going for it.
"I wanted to get points on the board right there at the end of the half," Allen said on his decision making. "We used our last timeout right there at the end and so we wanted to make sure that we were able to get three points on the board."
Sebastian Janikowski, coming off a groin injury, made both of his field goal attempts.
Palmer was able to avoid the interception that had worried fans from the preseason, but still was unable to get into the end zone until the final minute of the game. Palmer found Streater for his first touchdown on a short three yard pass, followed by a completed two-point conversion to bring the Raiders deficit to 22-14.
But it was too little too late, as the Raiders failed the onside kick attempt and the Raiders were able to run the clock out, handing the Raiders an 0-1 record.
The Raiders head on the road to take on the Miami Dolphins on Sunday looking to get Allen his first head coaching victory in the regular season.